Unscheduled school break carries a price

January 22, 1994|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,Staff Writer Staff writers Suzanne Loudermilk, Anne Haddad, Lan Nguyen, Carol Bowers and Gary Gately contributed to this article.

For thousands of Maryland schoolchildren who got to pull the covers over their heads this week and dream of tests not taken, reality is likely to return on Monday.

With it will come a variety of headaches for teachers and administrators who have to cope with the aftermath of a bad-weather shutdown that came at the worst possible time.

"It's expensive. It's a disaster for instruction; it's a disaster for public relations," Baltimore County Superintendent Stuart Berger said of the unscheduled break that idled schools throughout the area.

Scholastic Assessment Tests scheduled for today have been canceled at more than 20 sites in Maryland and have not yet

been rescheduled, officials of the Educational Testing Service in Princeton, N.J., said yesterday. Students should contact individual schools for information.

That's just one problem among many. For many school districts, this was supposed to be the last week of the grading period or semester. Exams were scheduled, projects were due, and the state-required functional writing and citizenship tests loomed.

"This is prime teaching time. This is prime learning time," said Baltimore County elementary teacher Debbie Glinowiecki. "There's a lot you are trying to get in in this last week [of the grading period]," she said.

She wondered whether students would remember to complete the social studies projects due a few days ago or forget the multiplication tables they were working on before the ice and snow shut down their educational world.

More important, perhaps, this week's icy stranglehold has put most school districts into the red on "snow days," or days allocated to make up classes canceled by bad weather. The state says public schools must be open 180 days. Most districts built a few extra snow days into their calendars, but those are gone now.

NB Here's some of the fallout from this unscheduled school break.

Anne Arundel County

The schools used their four scheduled snow days this week. Any future snow days will mean added school days for students in June, said Jane Doyle, a spokeswoman for the Board of Education.

Exams rescheduled: Final exams will be Tuesday and Wednesday. Report cards, however, will be issued as scheduled -- Feb. 4 for elementary students and Feb. 11 for middle, junior and high school students.

F: Functional Citizenship Test: Now scheduled for Feb. 3.

Baltimore City

Baltimore had two snow days built into its calendar but has used four. Officials haven't decided whether the days will be made up during spring break or at the end of the year.

Maryland functional tests scheduled for Monday have been postponed to an undetermined date, and students are asked to report to classes Monday as on the regular schedule, officials said.

Baltimore County

The county's school calendar had two extra days built in, but schools have been closed by inclement weather for five days, leaving three to be made up. The first will be Feb. 18, originally scheduled as part of a four-day Presidents Day weekend. The other two days will be made up Monday and Tuesday, March 28 and 29, the first two days of spring break.

"Everybody has to assume there will be no spring break," said Dr. Berger, noting that two more snow days would eat up most of the remainder of that vacation. By state law, schools must be closed April 1, Good Friday, and April 4, Easter Monday, which guarantees at least a four-day break.

"This is what happens when you start after Labor Day," said Dr. Berger, whose staff wanted to begin school earlier this year, leaving more slack in the schedule, but bowed to pressure from parents.

Semester extended: The second grading period, which was to end yesterday, will be extended through Friday for middle and high school students. Exams will be given this week, but most likely will not start Monday. Report cards, originally scheduled to be distributed Feb. 4, will be delayed a week.

There will be no changes in the end of the grading period or report card distribution for elementary schools.

Functional writing test: Students who have not completed the state functional writing test will be expected to do so on the first full day of school. Originally scheduled for Jan. 11 and 12, the test was delayed in some schools because of late openings. All ninth-graders must take the test, as must all other high school students who have not passed it.

Functional citizenship test: Students will take this test Feb. 1 as scheduled. The state requires all schools to give the test by Feb. 4, but could extend that deadline if inclement weather continues.

Concert postponed: The all-county music recital scheduled for Sunday at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall has been postponed until 8 p.m. Feb. 7. Students from the all-county high school concert band, orchestra and chorus will perform.

Carroll County

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